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Stop-Loss More at IMDbPro »

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4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Read the cards Shorty…Stop-Loss

8/10
Author: jaredmobarak from buffalo, ny, usa
29 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Kimberly Peirce's Stop-Loss is the perfect example of a film that can show whether you like the medium or the stories. I think I can tell myself that I am a true film fanatic after watching this because I thought it was a great piece of work. I've come to this conclusion because while I would see it again and recommend it to friends, I cannot condone one iota of it. It is blatantly anti-war, anti-American, and probably the worst thing that can happen in the US right now. Moral in the war and the troops cannot be helped at all with this very message-driven story. Despite all that, though, I really enjoyed my time with these characters despite how vain and selfish they are. The emotions are real and Peirce shows once again how authentic she can make the South look and feel with a nice rendering of Texas.

Despite all those personal reservations and the fact that this film could damage people's outlooks on a war they already don't agree with, as an entry to the world of cinema, it is very effective. I would compare it to The Deer Hunter in its portrayal of wartime clichés without making them feel forced or stereotypical, (not for being even close to the masterpiece that Vietnam movie is, but I could call this an MTV generation's version). We have the newly weds rejoining after a tour of duty and the hardships that entails, we have the injured soldier banished to a wheelchair and a life of blindness, the soldier so taken out of reality that being a soldier is all he knows, and the entire group suffering from mild to extreme Gulf War Syndrome on full display. Credit Peirce for showing it all realistically and somewhat sympathetically, never wholly to manipulate the audience, but instead to just tell the story she wanted to tell. Her directing style is effective as well, from the hand-held look and feel of the alley ambush at the start, the grainy home-film of the troops letting off steam during downtime, to the dark close-ups following the group around back in America. For those intense scenes of violence she deftly cuts in footage from Iraq with what is happening on screen. The sequence with Phillippe and the thieves who stole Abbie Cornish's purse is very memorable. Both from the choreography and brutality as well as the reverting back to his Sergeant self, engaging an enemy that is manifested in his mind. Peirce's only misstep is with the concealing of an event back in Iraq upon Phillippe saving Channing Tatum. To show this scene towards the end of the movie, a scene so out of the blue because it was never alluded to before, was blatant manipulation. She was doing so well at allowing everything to happen on course, until she spliced that harrowing moment to make us hate the war even more. The whole movie could be seen as manipulating the truth, but that instance was the one that made me angry.

A big part of my enjoyment, though, is in the fantastic acting by a strong troupe of young thespians. Emotions run high throughout, from extreme happiness to the depths of utter pain and sorrow. The two characters we spend the most time with are Phillippe and Cornish. He is really amazing in his portrayal of the leader in the field and off it. His ability to diffuse the situations cropping up with his friends and soldiers is well played. The slow devolution of his façade that everything is all right is also great. He is the one with his head on straight, but when pushed against a wall, the psyche shows its imperfections. Kudos to Victor Rasuk as Rico. His outlook on the life he must lead from now on was an interesting thing to see. The juxtaposition of his injuries to the smile and disposition talking with his friend is tough to assimilate. War is most definitely hell, and I liked the lingering shot of him as his two visitors leave the room; his realization and snap back to the reality of being in that bed alone with only his memories of a full life that was there for the taking.

My favorites, however, are Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum. Gordon-Levitt has made a name for himself playing the troubled young adult dealing with inner demons. There is a lot of his character from Manic here as he attempts to reconcile his feelings of relief and happiness to be home with those of hatred and revenge in wanting to go back to the Middle East to cause havoc. Tatum, on the other hand, was a big surprise. I guess when given a role that doesn't entail dancing or pretending to be an athlete, the guy can bring some talent to the table. As the one who sees a future for himself in the army, unsure whether to pursue it or to stay with the people he promised five years prior, he shows the conflict and inability to be the person he wants to be and the one they want at the same time. All his feelings towards Phillippe for his abandonment are true and I feel the only thing that is at all times real. This character is what kept me from completely writing the film off as anti-war propaganda. He knew his job and saw what fighting the law could do to those close to him. He must watch the world implode while his best friend leaves him to clean up his mess. It's a turn that I wasn't quite sure he had in him and maybe will make me buy into some of his hype.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Stop-Look...

8/10
Author: stodruza from United States
1 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

..at the fine print. If Stop-loss is actually in the contract when the soldiers enlist or sign up for their tour or however it works, which some people on this website are saying, then there is no film. Doesn't Sgt. King say "Me and the President had a contract?" Isn't the whole idea that it is unlawful for the president to yank them back?

The following review, then, is for the film in a world which Stop-loss is unlawful...

This film has two problems, but I did enjoy it. It got my heart involved, which is what a good film is suppose to do. One of the things anyway. I cared. The story made sense. I felt for those guys. The camera is too close on everyone from the very beginning, which forces the images and people down the viewer's throats instead of keeping back a bit and letting us get to know the characters before we can accept them at so close a level. This is important for a filmmaker to get, because, well, it's important. All great directors understand this. The hand-held stuff is a bit overdone, and needed to find its place.

You can't really blame the screenwriter for the ending, but let's blame them anyway. Can't blame them because it is feasible, but, isn't art suppose to seek some higher truth? Isn't that the point, after all, and not just settle for what is? After looking the Rico Rodriguez character in his eyes and shaking his hand Sgt. King still goes back to war. Hm. Feasible, but not really art. He could have made a good case for going to Canada or Mexico, and justified that. That would have been a better ending. **** the president indeed.

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5 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

An Incomprable Journey: from Hero to Fugative

9/10
Author: lord woodburry (deanofrpps@aol.com) from The Society NY
1 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Military Clerk: You have orders to report to the First Brigade.

Brandon King: Not me, I'm getting' out today.

Military Clerk: You leave on the 22nd, shipping back to Iraq. You've been Stop-Lossed.

Brandon King: With the shortage of guys and no draft, they're shipping back soldiers who's supposed to be getting' out.

Senator Orton Worrell: Your country needs you to go back. You know it's the right thing to do.

Brandon King: Sir, I've always done the right thing. And this is wrong.

Stop Loss is the incomparable journey of SSG Brandon King from Irak back home to Texas. Scenes from Irak alternate between young adult hi-jinx and bloody firefights with Haji, the locals who would send the US packing notwithstanding President Bush's dramatic declaration of victory aboard the USS Kennedy (not shown in this film) and Toby Keith's song sung off key by the GIs during respite from conflict. As cheerful as they are, even baptizing themselves in a curious mixture of Catholic and Pentacostal rites. the last fire fight with Haji takes out half the platoon and destroys all its equipment.

Back Home there's a parade and medals. After receiving a paltry Bronze Star, SSG King renders the type of rambling, disjointed speech many veterans might give to feather merchants (US civilians). Superiors upbraid him for not pitching recruiting. What does King care? He's getting out!

Boy does he have a surprise in store for him when Colonel "Boot" (Timothy Olyphant)wants to send him back yonder. "But President Bush says we won the war," protests SSG King.

This is the type of movie true supporters of the war might not like to see: the wards of amputees, the crazed survivors and the blood stained bodies of enemy civilians caught in cross-fire between the Hajis and US forces..

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6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Decent movie, but tried too hard not to put off those with differing views.

6/10
Author: ambrosia_1 from United States
4 April 2008

(I rated the movie 6, not because it is bad, but because it is better than average. Not an instant classic, not action-packed, but not overly preachy.) If you are with other people of differing political views, no one is going to leave this movie feeling their position was disparaged. But neither will anyone leave feeling "vindicated" by their views. As such, the movie fails to be deeply satisfying for either audience and thus, hasn't done better at the box office.

"Stop-Loss" takes a cue from another politically-themed movie, "Shooter", pairing the lead character with his best friends' finance' as he seeks to fight the "injustice" done to him by his "Stop-Loss".

As I've said, while decent, "Stop-Loss" tries too hard not to offend those with differing political views. Problem is, the very theme of the movie is to criticize a current and highly questionable military practice, so trying not to offend Conservative viewers is a complete waste since they are not the ones coming to see such a movie, and you fail to give the other 80% of movie goers that would have no problem listening to criticism of the government, what they expect.

All of the soldiers in Shadow-3, including the main character, are all dedicated soldiers that believe in the job they are doing, though maybe not the way they are being told to do it. Criticism of "policy" is rare and criticism of the government in the movie is nonexistent, thus coming off as less than truthful trying so hard not to offend movie goers of either persuasion.

A good movie, decently acted, even with the over-the-top and clichéd' portrayal of life in Texas. It will hold your attention and you will be interested in seeing how the story plays out, so in that regard, a movie worth seeing no matter your political persuasion, and good for mixed groups with varying views.

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8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

It's more than it appears

10/10
Author: chasfred from United States
30 March 2008

Previous narrative treatments of the Iraq conflict have been created by people of the Vietnam era and inevitably suffer when they tell their tale most effectively through characters of that generation. While there are many similarities there are significant differences. For my money Pierce nailed in many ways how our current military is addicting people into a path of self-destruction. The slow revelation of lives unraveling as a result of mechanisms developed to survive immoral circumstance was most telling for me, surpassing previous powerful if flawed films. Kudos to Pierce, a masterful work. If they stay away, the problem is in us, not the film.

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8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Excellent eye opening movie...

10/10
Author: CHMTBrown from Texas, United States
28 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Loved the movie, loved the plot. I originally only went to the movie to look at Channing Tatum, and really got so involved in the story that I didn't really focus on him at all.

This movie opened my eyes to what our soldiers go through over there and what kind of hell they are really in. It made me even more grateful for what they are doing over there, whether I agree with the reason we went there or not.

The movie was not at all what I expected it to be. I thought it would be some typical light hearted far fetched storyline with lots of sex and silliness. In fact, it was a thought provoking, action packed, and engaging plot.

I will buy this movie when it comes out and would recommend it to others.

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8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Hope this movie opens some eyes!

9/10
Author: rcreekmur from United States
28 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I know the leaders of this country will view Stop-Loss as a work of fiction, but I hope it manages to open some eyes to the incredible pain and suffering our military action in Iraq is causing to a huge cross section of the American public. Not only have 4000 American lives been lost - and 4000 families paid dearly for the greed of the wealthy - but many thousands more have been maimed for life both mentally and physically all because of the liars who convinced the country this was the right thing to do.

There are some incredibly powerful acting performances in this film by a group of young, mostly unknown actors. There is nothing false or unbelievable in any of this film's scenes and the raw emotion comes through with the words, expressions and actions of the perfectly directed cast. It's hard not to get caught up in the emotion - and become angry and what this country has done to a generation of young men and women.

I didn't particularly like the hand-held shaky-cam technique used to film the war scenes in Iraq. We've seen this and yes, it's supposed to create a more intense feeling of realism, but it doesn't. It's distracting and makes it harder to follow the action than it should be. I kept hoping they would pull back on it, but they didn't. This is my only real criticism of the entire film and I was glad when things moved back stateside so we could get on with telling the story without letting technique dominate content.

As powerful as the performances are of the young men who play soldiers in this movie, the camera sure does love Abbie Cornish. Her role is so pivotal because she represents yet another, deeper level of destruction caused by the war - the people at home who have to cope with the tortured American souls this conflict creates. She steals the scenes in which she appears, and often she doesn't even have to say or do anything to do so. Often her look alone convey more than any words could possibly do.

This is a film every American should see - and react to. Stop the damage now! Let's start restoring America's good name in the world and stop being the international bully we've become. We're paying too dear a price in maimed, disabled, dead and scarred American lives. Stop Loss shows it all and if you truly believe the rich in the country are rich enough, do something about it!

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8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Survival as a Band of Brothers

9/10
Author: janyeap from Washington, DC
25 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Bold, heart-wrenching and very dramatic, this film lashes out on the topic of Iraq war syndrome that many would rather avoid discussing, lest put it on screen. However, Director Kimberly Peirce, who has a brother serving in Iraq, opted to bring her insider-story to expose the human side of those young men, returning home from the war. Oh yes, young men who have now come home, but are still being tested beyond their ability to withstand the drain and strain; each and every one of them continues to be heavily challenged in his search for self identity in regard to the importance of family bond, the loyalty of friendship, the limits of love, and the value of honor.

The story first introduces the audience to a group of young men, operating in the dangerous streets of Iraq. Indeed, a band of brothers who has bonded over time, and who has fought side-by-side and keeping themselves alive by being there for one another. Their loyalty bond is unblemished. We then see the survivors finally returning to their little Texas hometown, welcomed with a Main Street parade and joyous celebrations to crown them as American heroes. But, with the glorious razzmatazz of tributes and show extravaganzas ending, who really cares about these young war veterans? Writer/Director does… and her very touching film allows the audience to follow the lives of a few young men, seemingly wounded, either physically or mentally, as they adjust to civilian life.

Ryan Phillippe's Brandon has completed two tours; Channing Tatum's Steve has already served one and plans to marry his hometown gal, Michelle. Then, there's Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Tommy, and many, many others… all of them, seemingly no different from their community of young men who had not been to war… at least until we observe them closely. So many of them have a lot of healing to do, and like their days spent in Iraq, these young veterans depend on one another's protection, and with one leader keeping them in order. Yes, Brandon is always there for them; always taking charge and never letting them down.

Observe the effects war has had on these young men. Study how their families try to reach out to them. And as the story unfolds, the audience, just like these young soldiers, will come to realize that the government's policy has its way of enslaving young soldiers to eternal service. What if Brandon has to be deployed back to Iraq? How would stop-loss affect his life and the lives of those traumatized and hurting veterans he protects? The stories of these young men are very compelling to follow and their feelings are tragic and intense… as we examine the camaraderie these young soldiers share. It's about survival as a group; it's about their need and determination to protect each other. And it's about a soldier who feels betrayed by his government.

With appropriately edited in flashbacks of horrendous war scenes, the film creates an insight of the causes and effects to the soldiers' traumatic stress disorders. We study their fear, their courage and bravery, their traumatic sufferings, their pride and their hardship. This film also defines the meaning of the film's title, letting the audience see how stop-loss has its rippling bad effects on even the finest soldier. And what we capture from the story is that stop-loss does abuse the faith of soldiers. Brandon is being stop-lossed, Should he AWOL to Canada or Mexico, or should he willingly and dutifully return to Iraq? Young men volunteer to fight a war for different reasons, but ultimately, it's their being inseparable members of their unit, or band of brothers, that would ultimately leave them to decide how they'd deal with the war. Oh yes, it's not hard to see that stop-loss is no different from back-door draft. Does it appeal to those with little else to lose in life, or as a trade-off for criminal pardon, or as a death-sentencing certificate for a already injured illegal alien serving with the US Troops and whose death allows his family members to gain access to 'green cards?

Great cinematic realism, phenomenal performances by the cast ensemble, a story well-crafted with solid psychological analysis and depth, and an absolutely powerful, emotional, and heart-wrenching film to watch! It's a film that cries out in "Support of Our Troops".

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A good film but I think it could have been better

7/10
Author: Argemaluco from Argentina
16 October 2008

Boys Don't Cry had been an excellent film because of its intensity,its emotional impact and the extraordinary performances from Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny.So,because of that,I had high expectations for Stop-Loss,the second work from director Kimberly Peirce after Boys Don't Cry.And,although it is a good film,I expected more from it.Let's see the fails first.I think the message from this movie does not feel completely honest.For example,the recent film In the Valley of Elah transmitted the same message but in a more natural and credible way.Also,this film felt a bit long and there are moments which could have easily been deleted,because they do not add too much to the story.And,after Boys Don't Cry,I expected something more from Peirce.Now,let's see the positive elements.Except for the moments I mentioned,I think this is an interesting movie.The performances are very good.Ryan Phillipe brings a very competent performance in the leading role.Pierce's direction is precise and it flows pretty well.Stop-Loss is a good movie but I think it could have been better and it has extra minutes.Still,this movie deserves recommendation because,in spite of the fails,I think it's an interesting experience.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

unbelievable... truly; and not for political reasons

5/10
Author: jgs000 from United States
1 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really loved this film! It took me in and got me involved from the start. I followed and identified with Ryan Phillipe's character from the opening scene. It was a realistic blend of what a social/geopolitical group perceives as it's foreign policy and what the individual actually endures to perpetuate that ideal.

However....

This film seemed to miss a lot of opportunity, and ignore some basic precepts along the way. It lost believability in the final acts, as the main characters are divided by ideals, but still cannot communicate. I find it hard to believe that the two main characters, who have grown up together to be best friends,in this film, cannot find some common ground in which to communicate. The fact that their short military service can divide them so unequivocally is very hard to swallow. Given the obvious fact that one of them is the 'smart' one,who gets it; and the other is the 'dumb', impressionable one who falls for the military propaganda, still does not over-ride the long relational bond that we suppose has developed and sustained these two 'blood brothers' through thick and thin, through life since the Third Grade. I cannot imagine a bond this close being broken by the regimen of military life. The Primary failure of this film lies, to me, in the relationship of the main character to his father. This could have been a heartfelt exploration of the true agony of battle, as seen from a popular war vs. an unpopular one. The Vietnam veteran and the Iraq veteran,father and son, and all that that implies,was completely ignored, and was a truly missed chance for the filmmaker to make a lasting impression on the audience. Instead, the emphasis on an unfair policy was made clear; but, in the end, no resolution, and no subjective or real 'content' was forthcoming. The final result of this film is an obvious attempt to jump on the bandwagon of recent times and exploit the idea that the US should not be involved in Middle Eastern politics. It could have been so much more...

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